Basic Safety for all Travelers

There are some basic precautions that all travelers can take to protect themselves:

  • Make responsible travel choices before, and while traveling.
  • Contact ASIRT for country specific Road Travel Reports with detailed information on over 150 countries. (link to RTR page)
  • Choose the safest form of transportation in each country. Be aware that local, less expensive, “exotic” forms of transportation often have poor safety records.
  • Be certain that your insurance covers travel emergencies or obtain additional insurance.
  • Avoid night road travel in countries with poor safety records and/or mountainous terrain.
  • Familiarize yourself with the unwritten local “road culture” and road regulations.
  • Learn about seasonal hazards and local holidays when road crash rates are higher.
  • Carry a mobile phone and key contact information for emergencies.
  • Obtain the name of a reputable physician and medical facility.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy for comprehensive local information.
  • Use seatbelts and child safety seats.
  • Do not hitchhike.
  • Do not drive after consuming alcohol, when fatigued, or while using a mobile telephone.

Walk Safe

The most at-risk road users are pedestrians.

  • Be aware of local traffic patterns.
  • Learn pedestrian rules and conventions.
  • Assess local pedestrian safety. Determine whether pedestrian rights are generally obeyed.
  • Be alert to reckless driver behaviors and a disregard for pedestrian right-of-way.
  • Avoid walking where you cannot be easily seen.
  • Cross only at designated crosswalks; do not jaywalk.
  • Be alert at intersections in countries where traffic pattern differs from yours.
  • Watch for signals and lights that are hidden or in unfamiliar places.
  • Reverse curb drill (look right, left, right) in countries where traffic pattern is reversed.
  • Walk on the sidewalk. If there is none, walk on the side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
  • Wear reflective clothing at night, bright clothing by day.

Ride Safe

  • Learn safety modes of transportation and plan accordingly.
  • Learn which bus and taxi companies have good safety records.
  • Avoid overcrowded, overweight and top-heavy buses, minivans and taxis which appear to be in poor condition.
  • Avoid riding with drivers who seem to be under the influence of alcohol or medication, or appear over-tired, irrational or distracted.
  • Be sure that taxi has functional, accessible seat belts. Ride in the back seat with buckled seat belt.
  • Board and disembark with care, especially where drivers collect or let passengers off in the middle of the road.
  • If driver is not driving responsibly, express your concern. If driving behavior does not improve, disembark at first safe opportunity.
  • Report reckless driving to bus or taxi company, embassy and ASIRT.

Cycle Safe

  • Avoid motorcycle, scooter and moped travel. If this form of travel is unavoidable, insist on a regulation helmet, even when it is not required by law, or bring your own. (link to helmets under resources)
  • Cycling in a foreign country can be a dangerous mode of transportation. Understand road realities and local bike road culture.
  • Take the less dense path. Only use roads that have bike lanes or pathways designated for cyclists. If no such pathway exists, bike on a road on which the cars do not go faster than you can bike.
  • Cyclists are most safe when they operate as if they are driving a motor vehicle.
  • Make sure that your bike is in good condition.
  • Use reflective gear and bright colored shirts to stay visible at all times of day or night.
  • Consult weather forecast for planned routes.

Drive Safe

  • In many countries it may be safer to hire a highly responsible, well-trained, professional driver than to drive a rental car.
  • Rent well maintained vehicles, equipped with safety features including seat belts, shoulder lap belts, daytime running lights, air bags, and child restraints.
  • Check tires (tread and pressure), headlights, wipers, and brakes.
  • Get information about local highway regulations, signs, customs, right-of-way conventions, driving conditions and seasonal hazards. See ASIRT RTRs for more information.
  • Familiarize yourself with controls in the car before driving. Drive around the car park before setting off on the road.
  • Move driver and front passenger seats back as far as possible.
  • Whenever possible, begin your trip in daylight.
  • If inexperienced with driving on opposite side of the road, obtain supervised driver training and affix an unobtrusive visual reminder.
  • Do not use a cell phone while driving.
  • You may wish to obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) by contacting AAA. An IDP is a legal identification document that translates driving license information into eleven languages including English. To order an IDP, you must be 18 years of age and have a valid driver’s license. AAA will ask you submit two-passport sized photographs as well as a $10 fee to obtain an IDP. AAA’s contact information is (Phone) 1-800-222-4357; (web)